For over a century, Singapore’s cocktail culture has been synonymous with the Singapore Sling. Originally crafted inside the famous Raffles Hotel as a boozy fruit punch for women to hide their alcohol consumption, it’s become the national drink. While still beloved, the city’s bar scene has shot up alongside its skyscrapers, developing a wholly unique culture—one that’s made it the cocktail capital of Asia.
Vivian Pei, senior academy chair, the World’s 50 Best Bars: Asia and co-founder of Pei Sisters Projects, believes its cocktail climb is due to a few things. “The magical combination of timing, location, a well-traveled population with good disposable income and a thirst for all things new and delicious,” Pei says. “There is also a huge pool of talent here, both foreign and local, which have combined to make one of the strongest bartender communities I have ever seen.”
As a result, Singapore’s 11 cocktail bars on Asia’s 50 Best Bars list in 2022 was more than any other Asian city. And on October 17, Singapore will host The World’s 50 Best Bars 2023. From the ultra-glam Atlas to the hyper-local Jigger & Pony, here are nine of Singapore’s best cocktail bars.
Greeted by the beloved Sikh doormen of the Raffles Hotel Singapore, Writers Bar is as alluring a lobby bar as they come. Paying homage to the many famous authors and journalists, like Rudyard Kipling and Joseph Conrad, who have stayed at the iconic hotel, it has bookshelves stocked with spirits, typewriters, and, of course, novels.
Bartenders here will make you a Singapore Sling if you say “pretty please,” but opt for the similar Million Dollar Cocktail instead. Created by the same bartender, Ngiam Tong Boon, five years before he invented the Sling, this drink is a mix of Raffles 1915 gin (made exclusively by Sipsmith), pineapple, sweet vermouth, grenadine, lemon, bitters, and egg white.
Stepping inside Atlas feels like you’ve stepped back in time or into Batman’s Gotham. The interiors invoke the heyday of the 1920s when Art Deco design flowed like champagne, or in this case, gin.
Atlas has one of the largest gin collections in the world, with 1,300 labels enclosed inside a 26-foot-high gilded gin tower. While the menu can be slightly overwhelming, the Martini Classics are a sure bet, particularly the velvety Atlas Espresso Martini and the Gin & Tonics, especially the Atlas Orange G&T made with the bar’s signature gin.
This brand-new bar and restaurant is run by the same crew behind Sago House, Ghostwriter, and Low Tide—arguably the coolest kids in Singapore. Its upscale Brooklyn bar and restaurant theme is evident in the graffitied walls, black & white photos of the city’s hip-hop legends,, and the cocktail menu—a spectacular custom-made comic book that details the history of hip-hop.
At Underdog Inn, they’re embracing the trend of cocktails on tap, with 12 different pours. The most popular is the Only If You Want It, made with tequila blanco, Espadin, citrus, kiwi and nori.
The Bar at 15 Stamford
Small sugarcane farms once dotted Singapore, one of which was owned by American Joseph Balestier, who is said to have lived and made rum where the bar stands today. At 15 Stamford, opposite The Capitol Kempinski’s signature restaurant 15 Stamford by Alvin Leung, rum is on the menu—a lot of it.
There are ten pages of rums to peruse and roughly 300 bottles from around the world, making it one of the largest collections in Singapore. Saddle up to a rattan stool and order the bar’s signature cocktail, the Plantation 1840, a blend of Black Tears Cuban spiced rum, sweet vermouth, pineapple citrus, and sugar cane syrup.
Step through an old Chinatown shophouse, and you may as well be transported to Tokyo. Outfitted in rich wood and plush Chesterfield seating for up to 28, this aptly-named Ginza-style speakeasy creates bespoke cocktails.
Just grab a seat at the all-wood bar and tell the bartender your choice of spirit, favorite fruit and preferred notes, and voilà, a perfectly matched drink arrives. If your imagination fails you, they mix a mean Manhattan or a Negroni, two of their most popular classic cocktails.
Glitz, glamour and the Golden Age of cocktails combine at this long-celebrated hotel bar on the second floor of the Conrad Singapore Orchard. The old New York Art Deco aesthetic translates to their menu featuring more than 220 bottles of American whisky and cocktails named after famous New Yorkers, past and present.
Order from the Manhattan Trolley series to have their namesake drink mixed tableside. And for more barrel-aged tipples, try a cocktail from the world’s first in-hotel rickhouse, where more than 100 American oak barrels age unique craft cocktails.
Singapore became a republic in 1965, inspiring the bar’s name and 1960s counterculture theme. Located inside the Ritz-Carlton, Republic breaks its cocktails into four sections: art, music, fashion, and cinema.
Of the 16, the most popular cocktail is the Mondrian, a blend of Stranger & Sons gin, Rinomato, cinnamon, apple, citrus, and egg white topped with an edible Mondrian work of art. If that wasn’t enough “liquid history” for you, Republic also sells vintage spirits from the ‘70s and ‘80s in limited edition bottles.
Jigger & Pony
Ranked No. 2 on Asia’s 50 Best Bars list, Jigger & Pony feels like the set of Mad Men, with sexy sleek 1960s curved edges, velvet seating, and dim lighting. The cocktail menu here is like a textbook you actually want to read, with page after page of Singapore’s most inventive drinks.
While there are 24 to choose from, be bold and go with the Ugly Tomatoes. Made using “ugly” tomatoes from a farmer in Malaysia, the mixologists add Hapusa Himalayan gin, kummel and Seedlip spice for a cocktail unlike any other.
At this small establishment, tucked into CHIJMES, the bar isn’t made of wood or copper but 35,000 pounds of recycled plastic bottles. And while the bar may be blue, everything at Analogue is green, with its plant-based cocktail menu omitting dairy and raw honey.
Divided into eight alcoholic drinks and seven non-alcoholic drinks, Cactus is the bar’s most loved cocktail. An ode to the world’s most resilient plant, it mixes mezcal, prickly pear, pink dragon fruit, aloe vera, Pasilla chile reduction, lime oil, and a Tajin salt rim.